Mosquito with West Nile found at Suffolk park

An undated file photo of a mosquito, a An undated file photo of a mosquito, a carrier for the potentially lethal virus West Nile. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Seventeen mosquito samples collected Aug. 20 and 21 have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk County, health officials said Thursday.

Because one was collected at Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown, the county parks department has been advised to suspend that park's activities from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., according to a release from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

The other positive samples were found in traps in Huntington, South Huntington, Huntington Station, Northport, East Northport, Commack, Lindenhurst, West Babylon, Port Jefferson Station, Selden and Rocky Point, officials said.

That brings to 124 the number of mosquito samples testing positive this year in Suffolk. Four birds also tested positive, but there have been no human or equine cases so far this year, health officials said.

Nassau County has had 21 positive mosquito samples, also with no human cases, a health department spokeswoman said.

Some mosquitoes' bites can transmit West Nile to humans. Mosquitoes pick up the virus by feeding on infected birds.

Nationally, last year ranked as the second-worst in terms of West Nile cases since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Nassau and Suffolk counties reported 14 human cases each last year, including one Nassau death.

The positive samples this year indicate "the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population," according to a statement by James L. Tomarken, commissioner of Suffolk County Health Services. "While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which can be debilitating to humans."

That means eliminating standing water, which can collect in tin cans, birdbaths and discarded tires, and serve as mosquito breeding grounds.

Learn more at suffolkcountyny.gov/health and nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/Health/

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